L’augmentation récente du taux de décès liés à une surdose de drogues, l’émergence d’opioïdes puissants comme le carfentanil et les rapports d’incidents dans les médias ont soulevé des inquiétudes quant au risque d’exposition à diverses drogues illicites dans le cadre du travail chez les agents de la paix et autres intervenants d’urgence. Cette étude vise à caractériser le risque associé à l’exposition professionnelle non intentionnelle aux drogues, en examinant rétrospectivement deux incidents survenus en 2017 et 2018 où des agents de la force publique ont été exposés à des opioïdes et à des stimulants et ont subi des effets sur leur santé.
Recent increases in the rate of drug overdose-related deaths, the emergence of potent opioids such as carfentanil, and media reports of incidents have raised concerns about the potential for work-related exposure to a variety of illicit drugs among law enforcement officers (LEOs), other emergency responders, and other workers in the United States. To characterize the risk associated with unintentional occupational exposure to drugs, we retrospectively investigated two incidents that occurred in 2017 and 2018 where LEOs were exposed to opioid and stimulant drugs and experienced health effects. We interviewed five affected LEOs and others. We reviewed records, including emergency department documentation, incident reports, forensic laboratory results, and when available, body camera footage. Multiple drug types, including opioids and nonopioids, were present at each incident. Potential routes of exposure varied among LEOs and were difficult to characterize with certainty. Health effects were not consistent with severe, life-threatening opioid toxicity, but temporarily precluded affected LEOs from performing their essential job duties. While health risks from occupational exposure to drugs during law enforcement activities cannot currently be fully characterized with certainty, steps to prevent such exposures should be implemented now. The creation and implementation of appropriate controls plus education and training are both important to protecting first responders from these hazardous agents. To more fully characterize potential exposures, timely prospective toxicological evaluation of affected responders is recommended.